During the late winter 1864 an Austrian cavalry officer who had joined the Mexican Foreign Legion, spent a few days in Gibraltar with his regiment of Lancers. They were soon to be on their way to Mexico on board the ship, the Peruvian.
On at least one of those days the cavalry officer and other members of his regiment must have been invited to spend a day with the Royal Calpe Hunt (see LINK) and an article about his experiences eventually appeared in a Viennese newspaper called The Sport. The author was so over the top in his description of the difficulties of the terrain, his admiration for the riding skills of the British huntsmen - and the beauty and skill of their women - that the Gibraltar Chronicle (see LINK) found it irresistible not to publish a full translation in their 14th of February 1865 edition.
Long Stables near San Roque – The Calpe Hunt ( 1866 - The Graphic )
The meet was at San Roque and this is what the Mexican Foreign Legionnaire had to say.
The party consisted of ninety-three gentlemen and five ladies. No one of us would have thought it possible to hunt over a ground of this nature. It is a sign of the strongest passion for the noble sport to hunt in a country which is even on foot very difficult to pass over. It is almost impossible to describe the difficulties to anyone, who has not seen them himself.
These hills are only to be compared to the Austrian Karst Mountains, whilst at Gibraltar there are still more loose stones, the heights are even more precipitous, the water courses and ravines even rougher and deeper. Besides, the stony ground is almost entirely covered with brushwood two or three feet in height, which hides holes and pieces of rock.Over these hidden obstacles even the most surefooted horse is liable to fall.
Who would believe that there, where one might expect only chamois to climb; one should meet a whole hunting field, not only consisting of gentlemen but even of ladies galloping with the greatest temerity down the hills? It was really frightful for us, unaccustomed to such daring feats, to see the most fair and lovely apparitions in the shape of English ladies in such evident peril.
Our hearts were beating anxiously seeing them suspended over precipices where a moment of hesitation or the false step of a horse would have been sufficient to dash rider and horse to pieces. But the keen eye and the steady behaviour which distinguish them throughout assured us that they easily and surely surmount those dangers.
All appeared perfectly at home on their horses and rode them with perfect ease and grace. . . . First we found a fox in the Pine Wood and ran him to ground. After this we came to some ground torn by furrows and chasms and without any wood. This ground and its difficulties for hunting defy description, and in vain do I look for words to express my astonishment at the courage and intrepidity of the English gentlemen and ladies.
Only those who have learnt to ride in the “Central Cavalerie Schule ” over the Austrian Hochgebirge, will have an idea of the demands which riders and horses have to answer. We soon found another fox and then followed several very exciting runs. We rode without stopping over rocks almost as steep as a roof and through streams of water. Unfortunately they did not kill as they had so well deserved.’
Taken from E.R. Kenyon – Gibraltar under Moor, Spaniard and Briton